The biggest attraction was Barkevious Mingo, a defensive end/outside linebacker expected to land in the Top 15 of this year's draft – which puts him out of range for the Bears, who have the 20th overall selection. Mingo (6-4, 241) is lean and quick. He ran a 4.58 at NFL Scouting Combine, which is outstanding for the position. He's a speed rusher who showed good strength on the field but there are concerns about his ability to handle big offensive lineman. Exacerbating this concern is his refusal to participate in the bench press at both the combine and during yesterday's workout. He's best suited for a 3-4 scheme.
Of bigger interest to Chicago's representatives was LB Kevin Minter (6-0, 246). He had a breakout year during his junior season in 2012, recording 130 tackles, which led the team. For his efforts, he earned consensus first-team All-SEC honors last year.
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Minter is a second-round prospect, although there has been talk of him landing in the late first round. He's a powerful player who attacks blocks at the line of scrimmage. He can close quickly on plays and he's sound tackler. Unlike a lot of the linebacker prospects in this draft, Minter is above average at using his hands to disengage from blockers.
He lacks lateral speed, which is a concern. He's also not fluid in coverage when asked to turn his hips and drop deep, a crucial role for a middle linebacker in Chicago's defense. Minters is tough against the run, particularly between the tackles, so he should fit well as a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 system. Down the line, he could develop into a starting middle linebacker.
At yesterday's pro day, Minter improved his 40-yard-dash time from 4.81 at the combine, down to 4.63, which is more than enough speed for an NFL linebacker. He also posted 25 bench press reps, which is solid. He's definitely a candidate for the Bears in either the first or second round, as he's definitely a long-term candidate to replace Brian Urlacher.
Mingo and Minter weren't the only LSU players the Bears scouted yesterday. Bear Report has identified six more rookies Chicago's scouts saw up close.
S Eric Reid (6-1, 213) Projected: 2nd round
Reid is an outstanding all-around safety who has the range to make plays in coverage and the toughness to be a force against the run. He was a top performer at the combine in the 40 (4.53) as well as the broad jump (134.0 inches) and vertical jump (40.5 inches). His intelligence, aggressiveness, speed and jumping ability will make him a solid second-round pick. Yet the Bears don't need a safety, having eight on the roster already, so Reid is unlikely to end up in Chicago.
DE Sam Montgomery (6-3, 262) Projected: 2nd round
Working opposite Mingo, Montgomery racked up 21.5 sacks the past two years combined. He's limited as a pass rusher but his high motor helps him effort his way into sacks. He has good quickness and he's strong against the run. His never-quit attitude resulted in him chasing down countless plays from behind. He's not an amazing athlete but he'll be a solid three-down player in the NFL. If the Bears are looking to replace Israel Idonije or Julius Peppers, or both, in the near future, Montgomery could be an option in the second round.
DT Bennie Logan (6-2, 309) Projected: 3rd-4th round
Logan projects as an under-sized nose tackle, rather than a 3-technique player, due to his struggles as a pass rusher. He doesn't have great burst off the ball and wears down too easily. Yet he has outstanding short-area quickness and shows great power at the point of attack. He's not as strong as Bears DT Stephen Paea, but he shows a lot of the same traits. With Paea and Nate Collins already on the roster, Chicago GM Phil Emery might take a pass on Logan if he's still available in the fourth round.
CB Tyrann Mathieu (5-9, 186) Projected: 3rd round
There's no denying Mathieu's playmaking ability. In 2011, the "Honey Badger" forced six fumbles and intercepted two passes on his way to winning the 2011 Bednarik Award as the nation's top defender. Yet his problems with marijuana led to multiple team violations, ultimately resulting in LSU dismissing him from the squad, costing him his entire 2012 season. Mathieu subsequently joined a rehab program and entered the draft. He's undersized but he's an outstanding athlete who plays bigger than his frame. He ran a 4.50 at the combined, demonstrating good speed as well. Mathieu is a talented player who, had he played last year, likely would be a Top 15 pick in the 2013 draft. As such, teams have to decide whether his baggage makes him worth a third-round pick. The Bears likely won't have to make such a decision, as the team is without a third-round selection in this year's draft.
CB Tharold Simon (6-2, 202) Projected: 4th round
Simon has a frame similar to that of Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. He's tall, lanky and has long arms. Simon also has good speed, running a 4.51 at the combine. He's a playmaker when the ball is in the air but he's not physical and his technique is lacking. He also struggles in press coverage. He's too tall to work out of the slot for the Bears, so unless the team feels defensive backs coach Jon Hoke can turn Simon into an outside starter, Chicago will likely pass.
DE Lavar Edwards (6-4, 277) Projected: 4th-5th round
Edwards worked in a rotation during his collegiate career, never as a full-time starter, serving as the main backup for both Mingo and Montgomery. Yet Edwards flashed enough during his limited reps to earn a mid-round selection. He's strong and smart against the run, and has experience playing on both sides of the line. He's limited as a pass rusher and may never develop into a starter but as a swing end and special teams player, he could have a lot of value. If the Bears want to add depth at defensive end in the fifth round, Edwards is an option.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.